A Tripcentric Strange New World
reviewed by gort
Starring Connor Trinneer and the usual lot, but also starring Kellie Waymire as Elizabeth Cutler and Henri Lubatti as Ethan Novakovich.
Director: David Livingston
Story By: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Teleplay By: Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Enterprise discovers a pristine earth-like planet. After checking for signs of civilisation (there are none), Archer decides to take a shuttlepod to the northern continent. T'Pol is cautious, reminding Archer that there are protocols to be considered, suggesting instead a week long geophysical survey conducted by probes in orbit, as is Vulcan practice.
Trip, who has only said the planet reminds him of home up until this point, can no longer contain himself and drawls "You expect us to sit up here for a week while probes have all the fun". Attempting to get the thought of probes, fun and Trip out of mind, this brave reviewer continues with the story.
Roll Opening Credits
T'Pol is checking systems in the Shuttlepod bay prior to departure to the planet. Crewman Cutler (played by Kellie Waymire, probably best known as Brenda's 'working girl' friend Melissa in Allan Ball's Six Feet Under) is trying to get matey with T'Pol. It's not working. Cutler is a little crest fallen that her attempt at friendship has failed. She turns and goes down the gantry steps towards Trip.
"You'd have more luck making friends with a housefly" says Trip.
Soon Archer, T'Pol, Trip, Mayweather, Porthos, Cutler and crewman Novakovich (another new face) are in the Shuttlepod heading towards the planet.
The shuttlepod lands in a grassy meadow and Porthos romps off across the grass towards the edge of the clearing, clearly about to lift his leg as he sniffs a tree Soon the survey team is posing as Trip records an image on his camera.
See Major Trip Moment #1 - Dog Quip and Camera Play
A montage of the team wandering in idyllic planetary ensues, with Cutler seeing eel-like fish in a small pond, Porthos romping joyously, and, portentously, Novakovich smelling innocuous looking yellow flowers (the significance of this will only become apparent by episode's end).
Later, all the crew members have returned to the pod's landing sight. T'Pol wants to stay overnight with entomologist Cutler and botanist Novakovich, to study some nocturnal marsupials. Archer agrees. Trip breaks in and says Travis and him would like to stay overnight as well. The team are left for the night.
We jump cut to night on the planet. T'Pol, Trip, Mayweather, Cutler and Novakovich are gathered around a fire at their camp site. Mayweather tells a boomer ghost story - the story of one George Webb, a friend of his uncle, who was an assistant engineer on a cargo freighter. George meets a sad end in a life pod, of course.
See Major Trip Moment # 2 - Being Silly Yet Charming during the Ghost Stories
Shortly after we're in Trip and Travis's tent. The wind has worsened considerably and there are frequent lightening flashes outside. Travis thinks the wind is gusting to 80 kph. "Nuthin' compared to a hurricane coming up through the Florida Keys" is Trip's cool response.
Next moment we're in Cutler and Novakovich's tent. Novakovich is becoming paranoid. "Someone's out there" he says worriedly while Cutler tries to calm him.
Then we're in Trip and Travis's tent again, and Trip is having a lot of trouble with a bug.
See Major Trip Moment # 3 The Trouble with Bugs
On the comm T'Pol asks Trip if he requires assistance. "No" replies Trip "I think I've got it under control". Trip and T'Pol continue the conversation and decide to relocate to the cave T'Pol had discovered earlier.
Back on Enterprise Malcolm tells Archer there's a nasty storm approaching the survey team on the planet. Archer contacts T'Pol who thinks a landing in the Shuttlepod would be too difficult given the weather conditions.
The team in the cave realise they've left the food packs at the campsite. Travis goes back to get them, but in the wind and lightening, 'sees' a man he thinks is Trip. Returning to the cave, Travis tells the rest of the team he saw three men out there. T'Pol says they are the only ones on the planet. Trip suggests the aliens may be friendly. Novakovich gets jumpy and says the cave is not safe and goes to leave.
At this point we have a notable Trip moment as Trip stops Novakovich with a firm hand in his chest asserting forcefully but with caring "Slow down crewman, that's an order". Trip then grabs Novakovich as he tries to push passed him but Novakovich escapes his grasp and runs off out of the cave. Trip, looking good in command, grabs a phase pistol and sets off after Novakovich with Travis.
Meanwhile T'Pol grabs a phase pistol too and says to Cutler "if there's someone back there, I intend to find them". Cutler grabs the last of the four pistols and follows T'Pol deeper into the cave.
Trip and Travis are in the storm looking for Novakovich. Trip shines his torch on a rock and 'sees' - with wide eyed wonder and more than a touch of fear - a rock man morph out of the surface.
With yet another rapid edit (they began with the bug-in-tent scene) we're back with Cutler in the cave with white lamp light, and a spooky air and incidental music.
Quick edit to Trip and Travis in the storm again, with Travis almost walking off a cliff in the poor light of the night storm. Trip says it's too dangerous looking for Novakovich and they should return to the cave.
Edit to Cutler in the cave. She hears 'whispering' and 'sees' T'Pol talking to a strange man. Cutler approaches T'Pol and asks "who were they". T'Pol looks confused. Clearly she thinks there was no one else there. Meanwhile Trip is on the comm to Archer on Enterprise telling him there's some kind of life form on the planet. Archer tells Trip to get back to the cave and that they'll come down in the Shuttlepod.
Cut to Trip and Travis back in the cave with Cutler and T'Pol - also back from their recent exploits. Trip tells the gang that the captain's on his way.
Next moment we see the Shuttlepod containing Archer and Reed zooming above the clouds. Reed has a fix on Novakovich. Archer contacts Novakovich by the comm. Novakovich responds with a "who are you" followed by a "go to hell".
Back in the cave the first serious tension between Trip and T'Pol develops. Trip says they've all seen the rock people and makes it obvious to T'Pol he doesn't trust her when she denies the rock people's existence.
See Major Trip Moment # 4 The Trouble with Vulcans
Trip and T'Pol are eyeing each other tensely when Archer on the comm interrupts. The comm conversation between Archer and Trip continues with Archer telling the team to get to a clearing 100 metres away, as they're going to try and land the Shuttlepod.
Then we see Reed and Archer in the pod. Archer states authoritatively "I'm taking us down!"
Cut to Trip and the others, who have made their way to the clearing, watching the Shuttlepod approach with upturned lightening washed faces. The tension mounts as we see the pod being badly buffeted by the wind as it descends. Trip and the others watch as the pod has to abort the landing attempt, the pod wing clipping a nearby rock face before receding from view.
On the ground Trip shouts above the wind into his comm "Cap'n, aren't you forgetting somethin'" proving that even when the chips are down, he can still respond with humour - another notable Trip moment.
Archer tells Trip that they'll have to wait till the wind dies down before attempting to land again and to "try and manage till then" adding the team should try and make contact with the aliens and find out about them.
Back in the cave Cutler flops to the ground with Travis doing the same next to her. Trip is standing and addresses T'Pol, who is sitting with her back to him. He wants to know about the aliens so he can tell Archer, but T'Pol is tight lipped. Trip gets quite emotional and T'Pol points out to Trip that he's becoming irrational. Trip is not amused. The scene ends with Trip pointing a phase pistol at T'Pol.
See Major Trip Moment # 5 The Gloves Are Off
Meanwhile, on Enterprise, Hoshi is monitoring Novakovich's life signs.
Cut to Novakovich on the planet, wind blown and wild. His hands are raised and clawed and he's screaming. Archer wants Reed to beam Novakovich up, but Reed's having problems getting a lock. Novakovich materialises on the transporter platform, leaves and soil embedded in his skin. We have just witnessed the first transporter accident in Star Fleet history.
Back in the cave Trip and T'Pol are still getting on badly. Trip is pacing back and forth. T'Pol is sitting, operating her scanner. They continue their verbal duel, with Trip accusing T'Pol of being in on a Vulcan plot to ensure the survey team end up dead at the hands of the aliens.
See Major Trip Moment # 6 The Gloves Are Off Part Two - Touché T'Pol!
Meanwhile Travis, shining his torch on the cave roof, sees a squirmy morphy shape. "Commander, there" he shouts to Trip who immediately blasts the spot with a pistol, yelling, "Do you think I'm gonna wait around here for you to slaughter us" then, completely out of control, "I know you hear me!". Things are going from bad to worse in that there cave.
Back on Enterprise Phlox and Archer are in sickbay with Novakovich. Phlox has removed the leaves and other detritus from Novakovich's skin. Phlox explains that Novakovich's bloodstream is filled with "tropomyosin", a psychotropic compound with hallucinogenic effects. The discussion continues and it appears the compound may not have been detected by the sensors because it was plant bound. Reed (who has joined them in sickbay) suggests it may not have been in the air before the storm. Phlox continues that once there is no more exposure it will be out of the bloodstream in three or four hours. He does not know whether T'Pol will be affected by the compound, and if so, to a greater or lesser extent than humans. Finally, half way through the episode, the audience gets to find out what's going on.
Archer gets on the comm to T'Pol to tell the team they have Novakovich and is told by T'Pol that she's got a phase pistol pointed at her head. "What?" says Archer, confused. Trip chips in telling Archer his suspicions were right and that their "little Vulcan" is not what she had appeared to be and that "she never has been". "What are you talking about" says Archer. Trip replies that he, Travis and Cutler have all seen the rock creatures and that Cutler saw T'Pol talking to them, adding that T'Pol "is up to somethin' but of course she denies it".
Archer tries to explain to Trip that they've all been exposed to a compound that causes hallucinations and heightened anxiety. Still pointing the pistol at T'Pol's head Trip clearly trusts Archer, but is convinced the creatures are real. Archer continues that the compound is in pollen and tells Trip to get deeper into the cave to lessen it's effects, and that they'll come to pick them up when the wind drops, also reminding Trip that he's had "hallucinogenic compound training and "to drop the weapon, that's an order".
"You're not here" says Trip, conflicted between his deep trust of Archer and what he believes the situation to be. Trip and T'Pol continue to eyeball each other electrically, but Trip's trust for Archer wins out and he lowers the pistol. T'Pol reports to Archer that Trip has lowered the pistol.
T'Pol tells Archer she is also affected by the pollen, but "only slightly".
Trip goes over to the still seated Travis and tries to rouse him, but Travis is semi-conscious and hallucinating badly. Trip accuses T'Pol of "doing things" to Travis but T'Pol can only speak in Vulcan - an effect of the pollen.
Trip, angered by T'Pol's Vulcan and now hallucinating badly himself, starts shouting at the unseen aliens and shooting at the cave wall. The scene ends with Trip turning to face T'Pol, again pointing his pistol at her, to find T'Pol has also grabbed a pistol and is pointing it at him. - the height of this episode's long building dramatic tension.
See Major Trip Moment # 7 Pistols before Dawn
Back on Enterprise Reed is telling Archer that the eye of the storm has already passed over the survey team but that the storm is huge (500 kilometres in diametre) and that they won't be able to land a Shuttlepod before dawn, which is still nine hours way. They are interrupted by Phlox who tells them that the tropomyosin in Novakovich's bloodstream is breaking down producing a toxin. Phlox says he's injected Novakovich with inaprovaline but does not know if it will work, or whether he's too late. A disturbed Archer shouts that he doesn't want to find four dead people on the planet's surface in the morning.
Meanwhile, in the cave, things are getting even uglier. Cutler has passed out, and Travis is all but passed out. Trip is still pacing with torch and pistol in hand.
He accuses T'Pol of waiting for him to pass out too, while pointing his pistol at her. She points her pistol at him, saying nothing. Archer contacts them via T'Pol's comm. Archer asks Trip if he's "all right" in a kind gentle tone when Trip doesn't recognise his voice. T'Pol tells Archer Trip is "irrational". Archer explains they are preparing a vaccine to counter the effects of the pollen and that they're going to beam it down. Trip cannot comprehend what Archer is telling him and says an injection isn't "going to change a damn thing". T'Pol says something in Vulcan.
Up on Enterprise, off comm, Hoshi tells Archer that T'Pol has said Trip is going to kill her with Hoshi adding 'I don't think she's imagining it".
See Major Trip Moment # 8 A Very Meaningful Trip/Archer Moment
Archer reminds Trip of the time he almost took his helmet off on Titan because he had nitrogen narcosis. "I'm asking you to trust me now. Take the injection" continues Archer.
But Trip 'sees' two rock people stand up from the cave floor and tells Archer it's too late, that's he's not going to die with a hypo spray in his hand, training his pistol on T'Pol again.
Archer stalls for time telling Trip to wait for his order while Phlox and Reed prepare the vaccine to be beamed into the cave. A beside himself desperate Trip tells Archer he's still waiting for the order, but he can't wait much longer.
Still stalling for time Archer tells Trip it's a major breach of security but he's going to tell him what's going on. Archer says that T'Pol is on a top secret Star fleet mission and that she's the only crew member who has been granted permission to contact a silicon based life form on the planet. Archer continues that he hadn't expected a storm to drive them into the caves, and that he needs T'Pol to talk to the rock people and explain why they are there, but that she doesn't have much credibility with a pistol pointing at her head.
Archer tells Trip he's going to have to lower his weapon continuing that if the rock people do not agree to talk to T'Pol, then he'll have Reed destroy the cavern because "Sacrificing four crew is a small price to pay for saving Enterprise". Finally, Archer tells Trip he's going to get Hoshi to tell T'Pol the same thing in Vulcan, adding "got a problem with that?". "Go ahead" says Trip as we see a close up of his sweating face. T'Pol says something in Vulcan which Hoshi translates to Archer as "play acting isn't exactly a Vulcan tradition". It seems T'Pol can have a sense of humour in a tight spot too. T'Pol shouts Vulcan at the cave roof.
Up on Enterprise Archer says he hopes T'Pol knows the difference between stun and kill before telling Trip over the comm that the life forms have agreed to talk to T'Pol so could he lower his weapon.
See Major Trip Moment # 9 A Scared, Boyish and Trusting Trip
Trip lowers his phase pistol and T'Pol shoots as soon as Trip's weapon is sufficiently lowered. A phaser bolt hits Trip in the stomach and he grunts as he gets thrown backwards against the cave wall before sliding to the floor unconscious.
All that's left to be done now is for T'Pol to get the inaprovaline and inject first Trip, then Cutler, then a semi conscious Travis. Travis provides one last moment of drama by trying to resist T'Pol but she gives him the Vulcan neck pinch and injects Travis, then herself. The drama ends with T'Pol sitting back against the cave wall, blinking slowly twice.
See Major Trip Moment # 10 The Resolution
Cut to next morning where light shines into the cave from outside. The wind has ceased to blow. A slowly awakening Trip is holding his head. T'Pol offers him a drink which he accepts. Trip asks "are they gone?" T'Pol tells him and Cutler that there were no rock people, that it was hallucinations. What about talking to them Trip asks and T'Pol replies that "the captain felt if I played along, it might help you lower your weapon. You'd grown increasingly irrational and violent." An ashamed Trip hangs his head and makes his peace with T'Pol
The episode draws to a close with a long shot of the survey team walking to where the Shuttlepod has landed in the clearing.